The New SQL Server 2016 Edition Limits

I was thrilled with SQL Server 2016 SP1. I’ve been asking for all features to be in all editions for a long time, and now we have most of the features available. There are still a few enterprise only items, but these are based on speed and scale, and not programming, and I can live with those. While I’d still like some “in between” edition that had higher limits than Standard, or even some sort of core/RAM add-ons, I recognize there’s a complexity in doing this that might not be worth undertaking.

That changes in SP1 that allow features like snapshots, CDC, Columnstore indexes, and more mean there are some other changes that are important to understand. The SQL Server Tiger Team recently posted a note about some of the limit changes in SQL Server, showing how some of the memory limits have been raised with the new Service Pack.

In the last few versions, SQL Server Standard Edition (SE) has been limited to 128GB of RAM in a server. While that might not be a lot to some of you, I’ve rarely had servers with more memory, so that’s been a good edition for me. However, when considering using Columnstore or Memory-Optimized tables, I could see why there could be some concern over memory shortages. After all, SQL Server really, really likes lots of memory.

There still is a 128GB limit for the buffer pool cache in SE, but this is separate from the Columnstore cache and memory-optimized data stores. For Columnstore cache, you get an additional 32GB of RAM that can be used per instance. That means that if I use Columnstore indexes, I could use 160GB for caching data (128 + 32). What’s more, if I decide I need to use In-Memory OLTP tables, I get an additional 32GB per database to use here. If I have a single database with both features, that means I can use 192GB of RAM for data. If I have two databases, I could get 224GB of data in RAM. Of course, things aren’t quite this simple, and certainly, running out of RAM with In-Memory OLTP tables is bad.

While these changes might not mean much for some people, I bet lots of customers will appreciate the chance to use these features, and not take any existing RAM away from their SE server. Of course, if you only bought a server with 128GB, you might want to get a little more before you start playing with Columnstore or In-Memory OLTP tables. And if you really need lots of RAM, Enterprise Edition now supports 24TB of RAM. I can’t wait to read a post when someone publishes their experiences on that system.

Steve Jones

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